A groundbreaking research project aims to improve the feed efficiency of New Zealand king salmon, potentially saving the aquaculture industry millions of dollars.
Nelson\'s Cawthron Institute recently received $12.85 million for the five-year-project spearheaded by senior aquaculture scientist Dr Jane Symonds. Symonds said the project will look at understanding the biology of feed efficiency as feeding salmon a specialized commercial diet was one of the biggest costs to the aquaculture industry.
According to the New Zealand Salmon Farmers Association, 14,037 tonnes of king salmon were farmed in New Zealand in 2011.
\"If you can produce more fish from the same diet, that makes the whole process more efficient,\" Symonds said. \"If you improve feed efficiency by just a few per cent, that can mean millions of dollars saved cost.\"
Symonds said the kilograms of feed used to produce a kilogram of salmon was known as the feed conversion efficiency.\"We want one kilo of food to produce as much salmon as possible.\"
The current feed efficiency rate varied from approximately 1.5 to 2 kg of feed to produce 1 kg of salmon.
Most of the overseas research focused on atlantic salmon, although some looked at king salmon. Cawthron\'s research project aimed to fill knowledge gaps in previous research on feed efficiency for king salmon, Symonds said. \"Over the five years we\'re trying to figure the puzzle out.
\"Both New Zealand King Salmon and Sanford have a selective breeding program so they can use the information we generate into their breeding program. That\'s an immediate area they can use it in.\"
Symonds said diet trials had been done many times, but none of those necessarily looked at the individual fish within a tank. \"So we\'re trying to develop and use methods that can look at individual fish within a tank that differ in their feed efficiency.\"
Symonds said the research looked at many different aspects of king salmon; behavioral aspects, health, gut bacteria, genetics, blood biochemistry and metabolite profiles.
Source: Stuff NZ // Original Article